The Frame

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The 14th Factory: Come for the Instagram pics, stay for the journey

by John Horn and Monica Bushman | The Frame

Garlands Simon Birch, Lily Kwong and KplusK associates Earth, grass, live flowers, steel, wood, swings, 2016-17 Jonathan Shifflett / KPCC

If you're a fan of contemporary art, Los Angeles has no shortage of museums and galleries for you. But for a bit of a different experience, you could do what we at The Frame did recently — head to a sprawling warehouse complex in Lincoln Heights to check out something called The 14th Factory.

You'll find a series of art installations — from an exact recreation of a set from Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" to a room with 300 pitchforks hanging from the ceiling that you're welcome to take a walk underneath.

Each room and the art within it is highly Instagrammable, but there's a larger message that painter Simon Birch, who organized the exhibition with a couple dozen of his artist friends, hopes visitors take away.

Birch says the set from "2001: A Space Odyssey" is meant to represent rebirth and transformation. Like the main character in the film, Dave Bowman, being reborn as a "space baby," the idea is that visitors to The 14th Factory will leave somewhat transformed as well.


A post shared by The 14th Factory (@the14thfactory) on

And the room full of pitchforks, Birch explains, is meant as a symbol of Americana, growth and agriculture, but also of revolution too. 


A post shared by The 14th Factory (@the14thfactory) on

"In times of revolution," Birch says, "the pitchfork becomes a weapon. And perhaps that suggests what the world needs now is for us to get our pitchforks and do something about the mess the world is in."

But even if The 14th Factory doesn't start a revolution, Birch says he hopes visitors will find some sort of inspiration along their journey through the exhibition.

"I think it’s good if people come out of this show and realize that if we — a relatively powerless and poor group of people — have managed to do something on this scale, with persistence and passion, why can’t you?"

To hear the full interview with Simon Birch, click the blue player above.


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